It's not all bad news at Barcelona after the league loss to Valencia. Despite the sad faces at the training ground, there was something to smile about on Sunday as Ousmane Dembele stepped up his return from an injury.
Dembele is running again and is now touching the ball, too. He took part in the first section of training on Sunday and is pushing for a return to action this weekend.
The France forward has been out since getting injured against Borussia Dortmund on Nov. 27. At the time, the club said a hamstring problem would rule him out for 10 weeks.
Since then, he has been in Qatar doing recovery work, but is now back in Catalonia and on track to return slightly ahead of schedule.
However, the club's medical team recommends patience with a player who's been plagued by injuries at Camp Nou. They want to ensure he's not rushed back and that he's in optimal condition for the Champions League game at Napoli on Feb. 25.
So far, Dembele has missed 11 games and they would prefer him to wait and make his return a couple of games before that trip to Italy. In the meantime, Barça face Leganes in the Copa del Rey on Thursday and then Levante, Betis, Getafe and Eibar in La Liga.
Dembele's return will be a boost for new coach Quique Setien, who has been left short in attack without the Frenchman or Luis Suarez, who is out for four months. With Dembele back, he will have another weapon to use, with more pace coming into the side, something lacking in his first three games in charge.